THE MAGIC ORANGE TREE And Other Haitian Folktales by Diane Wolkstein
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THE MAGIC ORANGE TREE And Other Haitian Folktales

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Diane Wolkstein prefaces this sparkling collection of living folk tales with notes on the stories' cultural context and on her own experiences in gathering them, and she attaches to each of the 27 stories a similar, appreciative briefing which does as much as cold print can to recreate the storytelling occasion. Lively, knowing, strong in imagery, and with that unsentimental acceptance of how things go that marks them as true folk expressions, the stories deal with clever tricksters and evil stepmothers, a magic fish and a singing bone, a neglected third daughter who becomes queen and a boy who marries the princess after fetching four hairs from the devil's beard, a man eaten by monsters because he didn't listen to his own dream and a boy killed for eating his father's apple, and--a notable exception to all those folktale characters who prosper by following strangers' seemingly senseless advice--a heroine rewarded by her witch employer for a compassionate act of disobedience. Wolkstein's notes make clear that storytelling is still enjoyed in Haiti by mixed groups of children and adults, and her accompanying comments will probably best be appreciated by older readers or storytelling adults. Such considerations might complicate the job of classification, but our Western penchant for rigid divisions shouldn't be allowed to come between Wolkstein and her own mixed audience.

Pub Date: May 8th, 1978
ISBN: 0805210776
Publisher: Knopf